Essaouira: The Simon Attias Synagogue
Under the reign of the Sultan Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdallah, the Jews were granted several privileges, economically, politically and socially. Thus the Medina of Essaouira had many synagogues which testified of the dynamism of the Jewish population within the Souiri community.
Built at the end of the 19th century, the synagogue Simon Attias â€“ named after the trader who built it â€“ is one of the eldest and the most important synagogues of Essaouira. Located in the core of the old Kasbah, this monument is unused nowadays.
It extends over a surface of around 500 meters, with a central patio of 40 meters, having a rectangular shape in general.
The synagogue Simon Attias has three floors. The first floor is a main entrance, marked by a big stone gate surrounding a massive wooden door. Its hallway leads directly to the small axis of the patio; to the right there is a prayers room, and at the left there are the staircases that lead to the floors and terrace.
The big room of prayers is of two floors, with a space reserved for women, at the level of a mezzanine fitted out on the three sides of the prayer room. Its decoration was done with a lot of care.
The central patio is of around 30 meters and is surrounded by a gallery on which many pieces open. The pieces of the floor are organized around a passageway protected by a sour wooden balustrade.
The third level consists of two halls.
In 2004, many restorations and cleanings were done in order to protect the Simon AttiasÂ synagogue, for an amount of 10Â 985 Euros.
The existence of synagogues in the city of Essaouira witnesses the coexistence of many religions and beliefs that had brought a valuable contribution to the economic and social wealth of the city.